Distal colonic transit is linked to gut microbiota diversity and microbial fermentation in humans with slow colonic transit

Mattea Müller, Gerben D.A. Hermes, Emanuel E. Canfora, Hauke Smidt, Ad A.M. Masclee, Erwin G. Zoetendal, Ellen E. Blaak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Longer colonic transit time and hard stools are associated with increased gut microbiota diversity. Here, we investigate to what extent quantitative measures of (segmental) colonic transit time were related to gut microbiota composition, microbial metabolites, and gut-related parameters in a human cross-sectional study. Using radiopaque markers, (segmental) colonic transit time (CTT) was measured in 48 lean/overweight participants with long colonic transit but without constipation. Fecal microbiota composition was determined using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Associations between gastrointestinal transit (segmental CTT and stool frequency and consistency), microbiota diversity and composition, microbial metabolites [short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), branched-chain fatty acids, and breath hydrogen], habitual diet, and gut-related host parameters [lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) and fecal calprotectin] were investigated using univariate and multivariate approaches. Long descending (i.e., distal) colonic transit was associated with increased microbial α-diversity but not with stool consistency. Using unweighted and weighted UniFrac distance, microbiota variation was not related to (segmental) CTT but to demographics, diet, plasma LBP, and fecal calprotectin. Bray-Curtis dissimilarity related only to stool consistency. Rectosigmoid and descending colonic transit were negatively associated with fecal SCFA and plasma acetate, respectively. This study suggests that the distal colon transit may affect not only microbiota diversity but also microbial metabolism.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We extend previous findings showing that long distal colonic transit time influences microbial diversification and fermentation, whereas stool consistency is related to microbiota composition in humans with a long colonic transit. This study puts the importance of the (distal) colonic site in microbiota ecology forward, which should be considered in future therapeutic studies targeting, for instance, short-chain fatty acid production to improve metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G361-G369
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology. Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Volume318
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • gastrointestinal transit
  • gut microbiota
  • short-chain fatty acids
  • stool consistency

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